An ongoing inquiry into the high level of visa refusals for Africans seeking to visit the UK for professional or business reasons saw the struggles Africans go through when applying for these visas highlighted in a recent UK parliamentary report by a cross-party group of MPs to the UK’s Home Office.
With a continental population of over 1.3 billion in 57 countries, the 32 Visa Application Centres serving the Africans are not enough to meet the demand. According to the report, submitting an application often means travelling hundreds of miles and sometimes even having to travel to another country to make an application. The issue of delays obtaining visa appointments and the UK Home Office’s unwillingness to provide updates on pending applications was also highlighted.
Applicants are also required by the British Immigration Rules to have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs during their visit but many applications are rejected because the applicant does not have enough money, even when all costs have been guaranteed by a sponsor.
Discrimination on grounds of income has on many occasions, prevented churches, NGOs, charities, development agencies and academic institutions from bringing people to the UK to take part in specific events.
Unclear guidelines on what is required for a successful application only amplifies the inconsistency, and often irrational, application of the “genuine visitor” test and points that conflate poverty with presumed criminality without a clear evidence base.